Wednesday , March 3 2021

Main space missions planned for 2021



After a series of successful spaces missions over the past year, 2021 promises some exciting new international exploration projects.

Three nations have launched spacecraft designed to begin exploring Mars in 2021.

The US space agency, NASA, expects its explorer, called Perseverance, to land on the red planet on February 18. samples“NASA says.

Perseverance is NASA’s fifth Mars explorer. He carries a small experimental helicopter, called Ingenuity. The device would be the first to test the skills of this craft on another planet. An important experiment will test a device designed to capture carbon dioxide from Mars’ atmosphere and turn it into oxygen.

This illustration available from NASA depicts the Ingenuity Mars helicopter on the surface of the red planet near the Perseverance rover, on the left.  (NASA / JPL-Caltech via AP)

This illustration available from NASA depicts the Ingenuity Mars helicopter on the surface of the red planet near the Perseverance rover, on the left. (NASA / JPL-Caltech via AP)

China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft launched last July with the mission of looking for signs of water on Mars. It is also expected to arrive on Mars in February. The spacecraft will attempt to land on Utopia Planitia, a large flat area in the northern half of the planet. Once there, Tianwen-1 will deploy an explorer to explore.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched its hope Probe in July 2020. The explorer will also reach the red planet next month. The country describes Hope as “the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and its atmosphere layers“.

An H-2A rocket carrying the Esperan Probe, developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to explore Mars, takes off from the launch pad of the island's Tanegashima Space Center of Tanegashima, Japan.  (Reuters)

An H-2A rocket carrying the Esperan Probe, developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to explore Mars, takes off from the launch pad of the island’s Tanegashima Space Center of Tanegashima, Japan. (Reuters)

The mission will study the climate and meteorological activity in the low atmosphere of Mars. Hope will also observe and study hydrogen and oxygen in the Martian upper atmosphere, the UAE space agency said.

New spacecraft to test

Boeing is expected to conduct another unmanned flight test of its Starliner spacecraft. The company was chosen by NASA – along with SpaceX of America – for its commercial crew program. The program uses private spacecraft to transport American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX has already completed two successfully manned missions to the ISS.

One of Boeing Co.’s CST-100 Starliner astronaut capsules is seen at a production plant in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, on January 15, 2019. Image taken on January 15, 2019. REUTERS / Eric M. Johnson

One of Boeing Co.’s CST-100 Starliner astronaut capsules is seen at a production plant in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, on January 15, 2019. Image taken on January 15, 2019. REUTERS / Eric M. Johnson

If Boeing’s unmanned test goes well, the company is expected to continue its first Starliner manned test flight.

NASA said it plans to complete final preparations for the first flight of its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for a possible launch sometime in the fall. The flight would be the first unmanned test flight for SLS and Orion. The goal is to complete a month-long mission around the moon.

The test is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and next man on the moon in 2024. The long-term goal of the program is to establish a continued human presence on the moon.

NASA tests planetary defense

In late July, NASA says it will launch its first “planetary defense test” asteroids. The mission is called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). It will send a spacecraft to intentionally collide with an asteroid at high speed in an attempt to change the asteroid’s orbit into space. The target is an asteroid close to Earth called Didymos. The operation will only be a defensive test capacity, as Didymos poses no threat to Earth.

In October, NASA plans to launch its Lucy space mission. The operation aims to study a population of unusual objects orbiting Jupiter known as Trojan asteroids. The space agency says the mission will involve a 12-year journey to eight different asteroids.

Also in October, NASA plans to launch its James Webb space telescope which has been delayed several times. It is the replacement for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which has been in operation for 30 years.

The James Webb is a large infrared telescope that is almost seven meters long mirror to observe space. NASA says the mission is designed to look more into space and offer more answers about the universe’s past than any other spacecraft.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from The Associated Press, Reuters and NASA. Mario Ritter, Jr. he was the editor.

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Words in this story

mission n. the flight of a spaceship to perform a certain task or job

shows n. a small amount of something that provides information about what was extracted

proben. a vehicle used to examine or observe something up close

cover n. a level of something spread over an area

asteroidn. small planets or space rocks orbiting the sun

capacity n. the ability to do a certain job or task

mirror n. a piece of glass that reflects light or images


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